Denise Bilott has been teaching 7th and 8th grade general music, band and chorus for 11 years. She received her bachelor of music in music education at Capital University, in Columbus, Ohio and her Masters of Science in Education at Walden University. She is currently the vice-president of the Westmoreland County Music Educators Association. She still performs with the Westmoreland Symphonic Winds and spends her free time with her husband Ben and baby girl Evelyn.
Even though no budget cuts had been proposed in this area, these music educators in suburban Pittsburgh (PA) saw the writing on the wall of music education nationwide. Instead of waiting to react, they proactively took out a billboard to promote music in our schools. Could this work in your area? Read on to find out the how-to of "preventative maintenance" for school music before cuts are threatened in your area.
In September, a few weeks before our annual Westmoreland County Music Educators Association meeting, I was contacted by Tom Whytsell at Olympus Media. His wife is a music educator at Southmoreland School District and both Tom and Megan were concerned about the loss of music jobs in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as negative teacher billboard ads that were appearing in our area. Tom, through Olympus Media, offered to donate the space and artwork for the ad campaign, the organization just had to pay for the sign vinyl.
Several years previous, WCMEA wanted to start their own ad campaign, but were unable due to the high costs involved in the process. The membership quickly agreed that this was a good idea and formed a committee at the meeting. Our committee was given the task to come up with a good slogan. After many “reply all” e-mails, we decided the best course of action was to run a contest that would involve all the students in Westmoreland County. The winner would not only have their slogan appear on the billboard, but also their image if their parents approved. We ran the contest from October through November. I was amazed at the quality and quantity of submissions I received. Many teachers used this contest in their lesson plans, having their students come up with a slogan and even a billboard design.